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The N700 is chunky, squat and uniformly deep. It looks and feels like a large notebook of the old-fashioned paper variety, an impression that isn't helped by the fact that it comes with a black folio binder to keep it in.
It's still not huge – compared to a netbook, it's tiny, and you could easily drop it in a bag or an overcoat pocket without noticing it's even there. Plus, it has Bluetooth on board, making it easy to hook up a wireless keyboard or headset, so it's a versatile companion that could quite easily double up as both a notebook and a phone (it can make standard calls).
One thing that's instantly noticeable is that there's not a lot else in the box. Syncing with a PC and charging the battery are both done over via a mini-USB port, so there's no separate power cable or docking lead to carry around with you.
When it comes to overall design, the Commtiva feels lesser quality than its more expensive rivals such as the Galaxy Tab, but not outrageously so. The worst observation is that the glossy black plastic cover on the back isn't particularly well milled, with the kind of rough edges you might expect on a school ITC project. But again, you have to look hard to spot them.
It's a nicer machine to hold than other budget tablets, such as the Advent Vega.
The Commtiva N700 has a seven-inch capacitive touchscreen with a pixel resolution of 800 x 480. Obviously, it won't rival the Galaxy Tab's 1024 x 600 screen for pixel density, but it's easily sharp enough for reading full-size web pages in landscape or portrait mode.
It's responsive to gesture-based commands too, although it does slow down noticeably if there are more than a couple running in the background.
Inside, there's an accelerometer, which automatically rotates the screen to the orientation you're using, with the exception of the Home page, which is frustratingly locked to landscape mode. What's more, there's a strip of on-screen controls for media and mail apps down the left-hand side that you can't remove for more space.
On the right-hand side of the Home page, however, things are much better. There are three buttons for the apps library, web browser and phone, while embedded in the black trim next to the glass there are four more soft buttons for Search, Home, Back and the contextual Settings menu.
It's a good layout, and the only controls that we accidentally caught more often than we'd like are the volume ones along the top of the tablet.
There's just 512MB of storage built into the N700, so you'll need a microSD card for any large apps or media libraries you want to carry with you. Commtiva supplies a 4GB card, which sits under a flap next to the SIM slot in the top of the device.
There are players for music and video, but the codec support for movie files is limited. Full Market access, however, means that it's easy enough to find an alternative that can handle the relatively common XviD or Matroska files for free.
It's worth pointing out that the built-in speakers aren't terrible either. You probably won't want to use them to listen to a violin concerto, but they're bearable if you're streaming online radio, for example.
A fair chunk of the available storage is taken up by a three month trial version of Co-Pilot's GPS navigation software. While upgrading to the full version is only £20, you could easily remove this for more space since Froyo's native turn-by-turn directions are almost as good as any dedicated sat-nav app, so long as you don't mind the fact they stream mobile data while you're driving.
Finally, the N700 comes armed with Swype's intuitive gesture-based on-screen keyboard. It won't be quite to everyone's liking, but can speed up one-handed typing of the non-euphemistic sort dramatically when you get the hang of it.
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